FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 19, 2011
SCHUMER CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE PASSAGE OF JOBS PLAN TO REHIRE THOUSANDS OF NEW YORK TEACHERS AND PREVENT EVEN MORE LAYOFFS – OVER 7,500 NY TEACHERS HAVE BEEN LAID OFF THIS YEAR
“Teachers and First Responders Back To Work Act” Would Funnel Over $1.7 Billion To NYS To Rehire and Preserve 18,000 Teacher Positions – Measure Expected To Be Voted On In The Senate This Week
Thousands of Teachers Across NY Have Been Laid Off During Budget Crunch
Schumer: This Plan Would Put Thousands Of Teachers Back In NY Classrooms, Where They Belong
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced his support for the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act that is expected to be voted on in the Senate this week. The legislation, a piece of President Obama’s jobs bill that will now receive a separate vote, would provide over $1.7 billion to New York to try and reverse over 7,500 teacher layoffs, as well as protect an additional 11,000 teaching jobs. As a result of the current recession, New York faced a budget shortfall of $10 billion in 2012, a staggering 17.6% of the state’s general fund. Because of the post stimulus drop-off in federal support and huge reductions in state revenue from the ongoing economic downturn, New York had to cut funding for a variety of educational programs and services. This year, New York’s elementary and high schools are currently receiving 0.6% less state funding than in 2008.
“We must immediately pass the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act in order to put thousands of teachers back in New York classrooms where they belong,” said Schumer. “Right now there are more and more children raising their hands in New York’s classroom and fewer teachers there to answer their questions. That’s a recipe that will lead to a failing grade for our kids and New York’s economy, and I am going to push hard for passage of this jobs legislation.”
The Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Actwould save or create nearly 18,000 education jobs in New York and 400,000 nationwide through critical investments in our education system. Specifically, The Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act would invest $30 billion to support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators. The bill would provide New York with more than $1.7 billion in additional funds that will support 18,000 education jobs, provide a jolt to the state economy, and improve the quality of education. This legislation would not add a dime to the federal deficit, as it is fully paid for with a 0.5% surcharge on the tax returns of millionaires.
Schumer noted that this job-creating legislation could not come at a more critical time to New York’s education system. New York’s budget shortfall has resulted in a reduction in funding in both elementary and high schools across the state. Since these cuts in educational spending, many New York local school districts have been forced to cut back on educational programs and services, often laying-off needed teachers and other critical staff. As a result, local government employment fell by 13,000 jobs in New York since 2008, including positions such as teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees.
Schumer noted that a recent survey of school superintendents conducted by the New York State Council of School Superintendents demonstrated the negative repercussions of the current fiscal crisis on New York’s education system. 66% of superintendents said that their districts had cut teaching jobs in the 2010-11 school year, and 44% said they had done so in the 2009-10 school year as well. Of the approximately 700 school districts in New York, about 90% are receiving less funding than they did three years ago, all while health insurance and pension cost continue to surge. Many school districts were forced to increase class size, or make cuts to other instructional costs. A great deal of districts were forced to scale back summer school programs, extracurricular activities as well as minimize their supplemental education offerings to students.
Schumer has long fought to avoid teacher layoffs in New York. In 2010, New York school districts were facing layoffs of as many as 16,000 teachers. Recognizing the financial pressure that New York state was experiencing, Schumer helped pass the bipartisan Education Jobs Act, which protected 8,200 education jobs in New York. Today, Schumer is pushing for the passage of this legislation, as it would provide over $1.7 billion to New York to reverse over 7,500 teacher layoffs, as well as protect an additional 11,000 teaching jobs.
Schumer continued, “This is an investment that everyone should be able to shake hands and agree upon. It helps our kids get a better education, creates jobs and boosts our economy, and I will continue pushing hard to pass this job-creating legislation.”